Amazon employees say ‘Shipment Zero' is not enough

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Amazon employees say ‘Shipment Zero' is not enough

By Dan Berthiaume - 04/15/2019
A large group of Amazon employees is publicly urging the company to do more to combat climate change.

In an open letter on the blogging site Medium, a growing group of more than 6,000 employees asks Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and the company’s board of directors to release a company-wide climate plan.

The letter specifies a number of conditions the employees would like the plan to include, such as setting a specific target date to reach 100% renewable energy. In addition, the letter asks that Amazon bolster its Shipment Zero carbon reduction initiative by committing to decreasing carbon emissions compared to current levels, as well as to actually eliminating carbon emissions rather than offsetting some of them with carbon credits.

Other conditions include ending the Amazon Web Services (AWS) oil and gas initiative aimed at helping fossil fuel companies accelerate oil and gas extraction, ceasing donations to politicians who deny climate change, completely transitioning away from fossil fuels, prioritizing climate in all business decisions, reducing pollution harm to vulnerable indigenous communities and communities of color first, advocating for local, federal and global policies that reduce overall carbon emissions, and not penalizing or terminating workers affected by disruptive climate and weather events.

“In our mission to become “Earth’s most customer-centric company,” we believe our climate impact must be a top consideration in everything we do,” states the letter. We have the power to shift entire industries, inspire global action on climate, and lead on the issue of our lifetimes.”

Employees are allowed to continue signing the letter, which states that the total number of signatories will be periodically updated. Most of the signatories have management and engineering titles. Tim Bray, a VP and senior principal engineer based in Vancouver, and at least eight directors have signed.

So far, about 10% of Amazon’s total corporate workforce has signed the open letter. According to the New York Times, this represents the largest employee-driven action regarding climate change in the technology industry.

Amazon has not yet publicly responded to the letter. However, in an April 11 SEC filing announcing the upcoming 2019 annual shareholders meeting, the Amazon board of directors recommend shareholders vote against a proposal for a report on climate change topics, as well against a proposal for an annual report on management of food waste.